Itanagar, May 5: The body of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, who was killed in a helicopter crash, was today brought here by the army for people to pay their last respects before being taken to his home district, Tawang, tomorrow for the last rites.
The body, which was located yesterday from the accident site, was first taken to Luguthang and then airlifted to Tawang by an IAF helicopter along with the bodies of four others who were also killed in the crash on Saturday.
A large number of people lined the roadside as Khandu's body, kept in a glass casket, was taken in a flower-bedecked vehicle from the Raj Bhawan helipad to the Chief Minister's bungalow at Niti Vihar here. Priests belonging to various religions chanted hymns.
A guard of honour by the ITBP, which guards the Indo-Bhutan border, was given as the body was flown in here by an IAF MI-172 chopper from Tawang this afternoon.
56-year-old Khandu's second wife Rinchin Drema, eldest son Pema, elder brother Goleng, and Lok Sabha member Takam Sanjoy also came here by the chopper.
President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were among a host of leaders who have condoled Khandu's death.
Singh and Gandhi are scheduled to arrive here tomorrow morning to pay their last respects, official sources said.
Governor J J Singh along with Union ministers V Narayanasamy, B K Handique, Mukul Wasnik, Vincent Pala and Salman Khursheed laid wreaths at the coffin. Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain placed a wreath on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
Chief Secretary Tabom Bam announced a seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect to Khandu, even as a holiday was declared today.
He said a state funeral would be accorded to the late leader.
The Assam government has also declared three days' state mourning.
The national flag will fly at half mast today and tomorrow in Arunachal Pradesh and in all states and UT capitals, including Delhi, a Union Home Ministry statement said in Delhi.
The body will be kept here till tomorrow for the people to pay their last respects. It will be taken to Tawang tomorrow afternoon for the last rites at his home village Gyangkhar in Tawang district.
In Delhi, Home Minister P Chidambaram said, “Arunachal Pradesh Governor J J Singh has been asked to take necessary consequential steps,” an indication that a new chief minister will be chosen.
Handique, who is Minister for Development of North East Region, told mediapersons here that the new chief minister will be sworn after the Congress Legislature Party decides on a new leader.
The B3 single-engine four-seater copter went missing with Khandu and four others after taking off from the Tawang helipad on Saturday and crashed in the mountains.
After a five-day search, the bodies and the wreckage of the chopper were located at Kyela, situated at an altitude of 4,500 metres, yesterday in Tawang district.
The other occupants of the helicopter were pilots Capt J S Babbar, Capt T S Mamik, Khandu's security officer Yeshi Choddak and Yeshi Lhamu, sister of Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup.
Their bodies were brought to Tawang by an army helicopter. The bodies of the two pilots will be taken to their native places for the last rites. PTI